Like most everyone else, I got completely swept up in Netflix’s Stranger Things – spooky shit painted with a layer of nostalgia? Yes please. I love the look and feel of the show, and on the homage vs. ripping-off debate, I am firmly in the former camp. The show stands on its own without all the references, but picking out the elements taken and remixed from all the 80s movies we loved is super fun! (Especially ET, one of my favorites as a kid, and The Thing which I saw for the first time just a few weeks ago). And yesssss, hit me with that sweet synth soundtrack.
(Don’t worry, this will be spoiler free, either just general thoughts on the show, or just plot points from the first episode.)
Winona Ryder as the frazzled single mother desperately trying to find her kid is fantastic, but my favorite performance is little Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven. Child actors are usually not great, but she beautifully conveys the fragile fear of a child, the strength of having strange powers, and the sweetness of making a new friend, all with limited dialog. She also loves Eggo waffles, which is both funny and sad as this mundane pleasure means so much to her after a life of being hooked up to wires and floating in isolation tanks.
I love this beautiful watercolor by ALB
Another thing I love about the show is the look of the Upside Down – the world that is a shadow of ours – darker, colder, scarier. The design is simple, but effective; it’s very dark, with these spooky snowflake particles swimming through the air, and everything is coated with this seaweedy, fungal slimy mesh.
When brainstorming something to make, I thought about how Eleven’s beloved Eggos would appear in the Upside Down. Darker of course (these waffles are chocolate maple), and layered with my amateur attempt at maple spun sugar – it’s not the beautiful wisps of a professional, I purposely let it get lumpy and veiny and more Demagorgony!
Upside Down Eggos
For the waffles
Adapted from Maple Chocolate Cake on Epicurious
- 3/4 cup cake flour (all purpose flour is fine)
- 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- upside down spun sugar mesh (see below)
- sweetened coconut flakes for garnish
Heat waffle iron (if you don’t have a waffle iron, you can easily make these as pancakes).
In one mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt. In another, whisk together maple syrup, Greek yogurt, egg, canola oil, and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
Cook according to waffle iron instructions, and brush the tops with melted butter.
For the gnarly spun sugar mesh
Adapted from Food Network
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup water
Spread a sheet of baking parchment on the counter, and have a mixing bowl half filled with water and a fork handy.
In a saucepan on medium high heat, heat the mixture, swirling only and not stirring (mine did get a little grainy as you can see in the picture, although it started off nice and clear), until it is 300° on a candy thermometer.
Cool the saucepan by dipping it in the water bath until the mixture is 275° Dip the fork tines in the mixture, and quickly wave it back and forth (both vertically and horizontally) over the wax paper. Let it get a little lumpy to look more Upside Down-like. When it cools, gently lift from the paper (I used a metal spatula) and gently place pieces over your waffles.
You can sprinkle a few coconut flakes for that artifact effect.